What is a Retainer?
When I see something I want to buy, like a dress, one of the first things I do is consider the price. I might want it badly enough that its cost does not stop me from purchasing the dress. But most of the time, even before I try it on or attempt to find my size, I check the price tag hanging off of it. If it's too high, I go no farther, but if I think it's reasonable, I take the next steps to make the dress mine: finding my size, walking into the fitting room, and trying it on. Then, if it fits well and I feel pretty, I spend the money.
"How much does it cost?"
When people need legal assistance for a divorce or other family law matters, they often want to know the price first, too. Many times I have been asked during an initial phone call, "How much does it cost to get a divorce?" Or, "I want to get custody of my child. How much will that cost me?" Unfortunately, unlike dresses, most legal entanglements do not come with a hanging price tag.
That depends . .
Our firm uses a trust account, or a retainer fee, for accounting purposes. A predetermined amount of money is deposited into an account at the beginning of a case, funds are withdrawn as legal services are provided to the client, and the account is replenished as needed during the working time of the case. We do not quote set prices, because of the human variables involved in family law; we cannot predict how anyone will behave while a case continues.
. . . but the end result is worth it.
Choosing a lawyer is not as easy as choosing a dress, that's certain. But, like a dress, an attorney needs to "fit well," too. The relationship being built with your attorney is one of trust and support. The price of the retainer may seem high at first, but domestic law is full of intricacies and danger (some dresses are, too, but that's a story for another day). A lawyer who can navigate through it all for you is well worth the price.